National Vegetarian Week: 7 reasons for people with diabetes to adopt a vegetarian diet

It might be time to say a tearful goodbye to bacon. Increasingly, it’s becoming clear that a vegetarian diet conveys a whole host of benefits for people with diabetes.

A good vegetarian diet should be based around four types of food: non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes (that’s beans, peas, lentils and the like).

So why not give it a go? If it really doesn’t work you, there’s no need to abandon meat altogether. But almost all of us could do with taking a few leaves out of the vegetarian book.

Here are seven reasons why.

7. It aids weight loss
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For those with type 2 diabetes who would like to lose a bit of weight, a vegetarian diet could be the key.

A study conducted by Cancer Research found that people who eat more are more likely to gain weight as they get older.

6. It will improve your blood glucose control

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Non-starchy vegetables and beans contain a lot of soluble fibre, a slow-acting carbohydrate that keeps your blood glucose levels stable. Try to fill at least half your plate with non-starchy vegetables.

It follows that, if a vegetarian diet keeps blood glucose levels stable, it also reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.

5. It will improve your heart health
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Vegetarians have much lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, and higher levels of “good” cholesterol. Bad cholesterol – or low-density lipoprotein, for the scientifically-minded – is the stuff that clogs up your arteries. Good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, clears out the bad stuff.

People with diabetes are more likely to have weaker, thicker arteries. And thicker arteries are more easily clogged by bad cholesterol. And clogged arteries lead to heart disease.

Beans and vegetables are full of good cholesterol. Be good to your heart.

4. It’s gut for you

The gut is more interesting than you think. For one thing, it’s where the vast majority of our immune system lives, so keeping your gut happy is key to preventing all kinds of nasty complications. Recent studies suggest the gut could be particularly important for people with diabetes; it plays a role in the regulation of obesity and insulin resistance.

Your gut is wise. Your gut wants plant-based foods. And with good reason: they strengthen your immune system and reduce inflammation. Adopt a vegetarian diet, and earn wise gut’s approval.

3. It reduces the risk of cancer
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Diabetes increases the risk of several types of cancer. Luckily, there’s nothing like a big helping of non-starchy vegetables for reducing the risk of cancer.

2. It will improve your skin

A healthy heart, a happy gut, and stable blood sugars – your new vegetarian diet is keeping everything ticking along nicely. But you can’t see it working. It would be nice to have some kind of radiant glow to go with your internal robustness. And by sticking with your healthy, vegetable-heavy diet, you’ll get one soon enough.

Stuff yourself with the kind of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals you get from a plate full of vegetables, and, as well as feeling good, you’ll look the part.

1. It makes you live longer
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Research suggests vegetarians live longer, with fewer health problems as they age.

Will you be trying a vegetarian diet? If you do, let us know how it goes on the forum.

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About the author

Kurt Wood

Kurt is 22 years old, but he looks about five. He was born in Coventry and enjoys novels in which nothing much happens and comfortable pyjamas (because he's young and exciting). In 2014, he was once again overlooked for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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